Many years ago some communist officials used a very effective strategy to persuade the masses to accept their political program. Knowing well that people go to a place of worship to demand something from God, they used to ask people whether they received their daily bread from God. When the confused people would reply that they
did not, the communist propagandists would then instruct the people to request the bread from themselves. As the people did that, the officers would bring bread from their vehicles, and then claim,"See. We are more powerful than God, because we can do something which even God can nOt do."
Of course, this trick worked with the ignorant masses and that too for a short time. AB is evident, even the atheistic communists had to rely on God for the rain which grew the grain that went into preparing their 'propaganda bread', In India there is common feeling that how can someone pray when he does not have the proper feeling? And how to get that feeling? Srila Prabhupada once said that to get the feeling one must be aware of his position. After that awareness one can express his feeling.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu, therefore, teaches us to pray to krsna just to become one grain of the dust of His lotus feet.
ayi nanda-tnuja kinkaram
patitam mam visame bhavaimbudhau
krpaya tava pada-pankaja-sthita
[Cc. Antya 20.32, Sikldlwka 5]
This should be the prayer to the lotus feet of the Lord, not for any material benefit. Of course as Lord Krsna is the maintainer of the entire cosmic manifestation, He has already provided all necessities for everyone's material benefit. Just like in a prison house, a prisoner does not have any anxieties
about his material necessities. The government has arranged already for his eating, sleeping, and, if he is sick, medical help. That is not the real problem. The problem is that he has become criminal by transgressing the laws of the state. Now he should become a very good citizen and come out of the prison house. Then he is happy. Similarly, in this material world, so far our material necessities are concerned, they are already arranged. There is no question of becoming anxious forthem.
However, there are examples of devotees who prayed for material things in the beginning and later were purified of those desires. Dhruva Maharaja is one such example. As he was the son of King Uttanapada, he desired to sit on the lap of his father. But his step-mother sharply rebuked him for his impudency and reminded him that this prerogative belonged only to her son and not to Dhruva, as his mother was not the King's favorite queen. Deeply hurt by this experience and breathing heavily like a trampled snake, the five year old Dhruva went to the forest to perform heavy austerities on the advice of his mother. By the grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the great sage Narada Muni became the young boy's spiritual master and guided him on the path of fulfilling his desires. But as soon as Dhruva gained a vision of the Lord, his perspective underwent a sea change and he offered the following prayer –
'0 my Lord, because I was seeking an opulent material position, I was performing severe types of penance and austerity. Now I have gotten You, who are very difficult for the great demigods, saintly persons and kings to attain. I was searching after a piece of glass, but instead I have found a most valuable jewel. Therefore I am so satisfied that I do not wish to ask any benediction from You.'
The Srimad-Bhdgavatam also advises that – A person who has broader intelligence, whether he be full of all material desire, without any material desire, or desiring liberation, must by all means worship the supreme whole, the Personality of Godhead.(SB 2.3.10)
In today's godless society so-called leaders are however using prayers as they find fit. Srila Prabhupada exposed their hypocrisy when he learned that the project managers of the moon expedition had prayed, because the Apollo vehicle was experiencing danger when coming back on earth. He said, "Just see how much foolish they are! When they go to the moon planet, at that time, 'God give us permission, we may go'? No. 'We are scientists. We don't care for God: But when they are in danger, 'God save us,' Just see what kind of scientists they are!"